Operational safety and health practices aim to safeguard the life and health of workers through established standards that provide proper working conditions and training to prevent illness and accidents at work.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 6,300 people die every day as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases, more than 2.3 million deaths per year. Additionally, over 317 million occupational accidents happen annually, many of which become extended absences from work. The cost of this daily adversity is immense and the economic burden of poor operational safety and health practices is estimated at 4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product each year. Employers face costly retirements, loss of skilled staff, absenteeism, and high insurance premiums due to work-related accidents and diseases. However, many of these tragedies can be prevented by implementing sound prevention, reporting, and inspection practices. These standards on operational safety and health provide essential tools for governments, employers, and workers to establish such practices for maximum safety at work.

For higher education institutions, safety and health are excellent opportunity areas in laboratories and workshops since many students, professors, and staff carry out activities similar to industrial processes that represent potential damage for their health. Therefore, it is necessary to periodically examine and assess such facilities in order to identify and prevent risks or accidents.

The UANL Office of the Vice President for Sustainable Development, assisted by the Department of Environmental Management and Operational Safety, concluded in 2015 a technical inspection program in 26 undergraduate schools, 29 high schools, and 33 cafeterias for purposes of environmental and operational safety examination.

Some of the most noteworthy aspects under inspection are disclosed as follows: number and types of fire extinguishers, safety signs, evacuation routes, emergency exits, assembly points, contingency plans, storage and handling of waste and chemicals, safety data sheets, electrical installations, among others.

 

The monitoring of 10 undergraduate schools and 3 technical high schools was initiated in April 2016 as complementary part of the technical inspections to assess how these UANL entities have implemented the recommendations received.

As of June of this year, the first technical inspections have been completed in 30 institutes and research centers.

After the technical inspections, each UANL entity was delivered a report with recommendations for elaborating environmental and safety plans based on the current norms in Mexico, such as the Official Mexican Standard NOM-018-STPS-2015 that establishes a structure system to identify and communicate potential risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

This standard discloses information on Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and pictographs, which help identify risks at handling different chemicals.

pictogramasSafety Data Sheets are intrinsically important to chemical substances as it provides relevant full information for developing programs to communicate risks in the workplace. This information contains the following elements:

  1. Physical and chemical properties of substances
  2. Symptoms and health problems derived from exposure to chemicals
  3. First aid
  4. Personal protective equipment, such as safety gloves and glasses
  5. Recommended spill clean up procedures

Standardization of safety signs is another important aspect for operational safety as it helps identify and communicate workplace risks in order to prevent accidents, health problems, and environmental damages.  Therefore, all UANL academic and administrative entities are currently addressing this matter based on the provisions of NOM-026-STPS-2008 ‘Safety and Health Signs and Colors; Risk Identification of Fluids in Pipelines’. This standard establishes different common safety signs, some of which are shown as follows:

Among its many functions, the UANL Department of Security implements the Contingency Plan within the campus and conducts training courses for our university staff and community according to the four areas of public safety: fire fighting, search and rescue, first aid, and evacuation.

Civil Protection

Among its many functions, the UANL Department of Security implements the Contingency Plan within the campus and conducts training courses for our university staff and community according to the four areas of public safety: fire fighting, search and rescue, first aid, and evacuation.

As a result, safeguarding health and promoting sustainable practices become essential for higher education institutions, such as UANL, in order to protect the thousands of students, professors, and employees who daily attend our university.

2.1 Technical Operational Safety Guidelines

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

clear formPost comment